Why I’m Taking My 9-Year-Old To SlutWalk

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I have a huge problem with the sexification of ‘tween wardrobes. You won’t find my daughter wearing a micro mini, strappy dress or kiddie heels. It goes without saying that bikinis – and even shirts with coy, “sassy” phrases – are verboten, too. No Lolita-esque tees with screen-printed cherries will ever cross the threshold of our house for years – nay, decades – to come.

So why are we going to Slutwalk?

Because it’s vital that we attend.

A newly revitalized sister protest to Take Back The Night , SlutWalks sprang up a few months ago in response to the misguided advice a Toronto police officer provided to a sexual assault prevention workshop held at York University: To avoid sexual victimization, don’t dress like a slut. (I don’t need to outline how simplistic, wrong and offensive this view of sexual assault is – I’m sure you know that already.)

I have some concerns about the walk: Will there be misogynist counter protesters? Will some of the participants be dressed like burlesque performers, and will my 9-year-old understand the finer points of certain Millennial feminist wardrobe choices? Will the weather cooperate?

Either way, I want us to be part of a movement of women ­– of people – saying “Are you out of your [email protected]#king mind?! In 2011, we still need to argue that no means no, regardless of whether a woman is wearing a miniskirt, tight jeans or sexy-nurse Halloween outfit?”

I want my kid to see that sometimes citizens take to the streets to be heard. That this is as much a part of democracy as voting.

But we’re going to have to talk beforehand – and it’ll be an ongoing, open-ended conversation about girls and clothes. About the pressure society places on females to look sexually enticing – and how it rewards or punishes them, depending on circumstance.

I won’t lie: I don’t want my daughter to dress like a “slut.” Not now, not ever. She’s too smart, too active, too worldly, too outgoing – and, yes, too conventionally good looking – to ever have to take a lowest-common-denominator approach to catching someone’s eye. (I wish more moms and dads would tell their daughters that.)

But “fashion crimes” shouldn’t be regarded by men or officers of the law as an invitation or justification for sex crimes.

So, we’ll be attending our first mother-daughter demonstration next month, clad in our matching sensible skinny-but-not-skin-tight jeans, tees and cardis. I hope you will join us, too, whether you’re rocking a burka or denim hot pants and fishnets.